Thursday, 30 April 2015


“For me, art is a process of exploration - a way of seeing, thinking and problem-solving,” says Melbourne artist Hannah Fox. “My most recent paintings have been abstract which enables me to be fully immersed in the act of painting. This is incredibly freeing!” Hannah completed a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting at Monash University and was an intern with Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, and worked at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. Her first solo show was a sell-out, and she will exhibit at Collingwood Gallery in Melbourne from May 10 to 21. “Once I called myself an artist - whether I believed it or not! - I found opportunities started to come my way,” Hannah says. “I was open to it.” Hannah is the great grand niece of Australian Impressionist Emanuel Phillips Fox

Which five words best describe you? Introverted, extroverted - yes, both! - imaginative, organised, tall.

How did you get your career started and what path have you taken since? Sometimes the term “career” seems out of place. My art is just there, it always has been, I suppose. Creativity came naturally from an early age and I was encouraged by my family to pursue it which I am grateful for. I travelled after school and then completed a Fine Art degree at Monash University. I absolutely loved this course, it opened up my mind. At the same time, it made me utterly petrified. Graduating young, I didn’t feel confident I could take on the art world. I pursued further study in design, ran an events business and worked in graphic design. Not entirely satisfied, I also worked in galleries to try to connect back into the art scene. Eventually my path lead me back to painting. My hop scotch “career” has all been worth it. I am a better artist for it. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? This time next year you’ll wish you started today. So, start now!

What’s your proudest career achievement? My first solo show was a huge hurdle for me. Emotionally, physically - I was eight months pregnant - and career wise. I forced myself to be brave. It was a sell-out success and gave me the self-belief and courage to continue with my art practice. 

What’s been your best decision? To stop seeking some other creative corporate career in design that would have been great, but not really for me. The moment I pulled out my paints again was heaven.

Who inspires you? Many artists: Fred Williams, Yvonne Audette, Mark Rothko, Ben Quilty, Guy Maestri, Kate Tucker, to name but only a few. Musicians and people who speak many languages. I am inspired and jealous! Anyone who works from home whilst raising kids. It’s madness! Positive people. They are gold. 

What are you passionate about? Melbourne. I love everything this city offers — its cultural diversity, its architecture, the food on offer, coffee, sport, parks, gardens... the list goes on.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Definitely Emanuel Phillips Fox, my Great Grand Uncle. He was one of the most gifted colourists and figure painters among the Australian Impressionists. Sadly, he was perhaps not as recognised here as some of our other late 19th/early 20th century artists. Emanuel was too busy mixing it with the greats over in Paris. Oh, the stories he could tell. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? My dream is to keep painting. I am lucky right now, so if I can keep it up and develop my art practice further I will be happy. I am keen to see where my art goes and what opportunities arise. I am open to change. I would love to try my hand at ceramics, sculpture, welding... Travel wise, my dream is to get to New York. 

What are you reading? A complete mixed bag. Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph. I have three boys under five and they are a mystery to my all-female upbringing. Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

images courtesy of hannah fox

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


While Melbourne-based Kim Jaeger has a Masters in graphic design, she has often worked in different areas within the arts - from sound to video and photography. “Ceramics was just another medium I was trying out,” she says. Kim took a wheel course in 2007 but didn’t return to working with clay until 2011 when she started to hand build. That was when the interest was really ignited. While ceramics are still a part-time occupation for her, she has managed to exhibt in LA, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. Kim also works with several retailers who stock her retail-based art. “My work sits in a funny place,” she says. “Somewhere between retail and artwork because they are one-offs. So the stockists who have taken on my work I really appreciate and trust that they understand my work. I am really appreciative of that.” Her current exhibition, Nearness at Mt Kitly gallery, a collaborative show with Anna Varendorff, runs until May 3.

Which five words best describe you? Curious, hardworking, impatient - which is a terrible combination with ceramics! - honest, proactive.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I’m a trained graphic designer but somehow got into arts management/events/marketing somewhere along the way but kept up my art practise during evenings and weekends. I’m not very good at sitting still. It’s something I’m trying to work on. As far as ceramics goes, initially I approached stockists I thought might understand my work to have a look and see if it would be a fit with their retail spaces. Because I see them a little differently than normal mass-produced pieces the retailers I approached I felt had an understanding of this. From there it’s grown into exhibitions, collaborations, projects and teaching. All of which I’m very grateful and excited about!

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To be open to everything but to only work with people who you respect and that in turn respect you and your work.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I don’t know if I have just one event that I’m most proud of. Maybe teaching? I really enjoy passing on skills and encouraging people to make art.

What’s been your best decision? In my life? To become a mother. By far the best and most challenging thing I have done. Also to live overseas for a time. I hope I get the opportunity to do that again.

Who inspires you? Lots of people for lots of different reasons. My partner Andy for his patience and humble nature - amongst other things, my daughter for her zingy way in the world, my excellent circle of friends and family that support me and other artists who work hard at their practise and don’t stop experimenting and pushing their work.

What are you passionate about? My family, my friends, making, art, equality, travel, good design, the ocean, home environments.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? This is a hard one. Maybe David Attenborough? I’ve seen him talk a few years back and he was quite entertaining, plus I hear he has quite a collection of ceramics - maybe he’d let me take a peek?

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to build a house with my family one day with a studio for my partner and I to work in - currently my studio is in our laundry/my kitchen table. I’d also love to do a residency overseas. Do more teaching. More collaborations. Is this too many dreams? I have lots more.

What are you reading? I just finished - last night - The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I can’t stop thinking about what it means to have everything you need emotionally and then the next your world is completely changed; grief is a big, big thing to sit with. Wow. What a way to end an interview. Let’s all ponder our own fate. It’s a good thing to do once in a while though, I think. It makes you not sweat the small stuff.

images courtesy of kim jaeger; portrait andy hutson

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


The chance discovery of block-printed bedcovers in a Unicef store led fashion turned interior stylist Mary Bergtold Mulcahy on a long yet fulfilling journey. After an extensive search to find a way to making this type of fabric, she was able to find a craftsman, Srinivas Pitchuka, in a small village in southern India who could create what she was after, using the ancient printing technique of Kalamkari. In 2002 Mary launched Les Indiennes from her base in New York state and has been busy designing and selling her textiles ever since. Yet despite the growth of her business, she says the production of her fabric doesn’t use any electricity in the village where it is made, create any pollution or disrupt the traditional way of life. Les Indiennes is also a Fair Trade employer for more than 50 families.

Which five words best describe you? Original, inquisitive, visual, bohemian, mom.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, I became an editor at Harper’s Bazaar. When I married and had children, my interests turned to home and interior design. I made the switch to styling interiors. This was second nature as my mother was a very talented decorator, and I grew up in an artistic environment. 

I’ve always been interested in textiles and discovered some block-printed bedcovers at the local Unicef store. I looked everywhere for similar cottons, but found nothing so I posted an ad in TradeIndia (a B2B message board). After receiving many mediocre samples, Pitchuka Srinivas, my current business partner, sent pieces which stood out from the rest. He is a traditional Kalamkari artisan. Through his work I discovered the parameters that began to define my vision.

Using only natural dyes on organic cotton, I changed the background colour from a dark beige to a creamy white, a treatment unheard of in the Kalamkari tradition. Taking complex Indian patterns, I edited, enlarged, and spaced them further apart.

With my new interest in Indian block prints, I proposed an editorial to a shelter magazine. After the story was published, I was deluged with inquiries about my textiles. This launched my business named Les Indiennes, a title the French gave to this type of fabric in the eighteen century.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Never be afraid to take risks, and stick to your own vision.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Perhaps winning the International Design Award for interiors in 2008? Designing textiles is a joy.

What’s been your best decision? To not change the way artisans traditionally work in India.

What are you passionate about? Design, interiors, historical visual reference and, of course, shopping.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Marie Antoinette.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To create a foundation that supports independent traditional artisans of India.

What are you reading? The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple and Nancy Lancaster by Robert Becker.

images courtesy of les indiennes

Friday, 24 April 2015


“Photography is where maths and logic can result in feeling and emotion,” says Daniel Shipp, who started his working life in the film industry but felt life as a photographer gave him a unique opportunity. He could be his own production unit, bringing together all the elements under his direction. After studying at art school, he assisted fashion photographers and then moved to Canada, where he began shooting his own work. On his return to Sydney he established a client base, and started to gain traction. “It was when I started to notice that my weird obsessive ways that I felt self-conscious about were actually valued by some people.” Daniel won the Luxe Prize in Quebec, Canada for an editorial portrait series in 2007, was a finalist in the Josephine Ulrick Award in 2005 and was the Photo Technica New Australian Photo Artist of the Year in 2001. He has exhibited several times over the past 15 years, and will show Botanical Inquiry at Saint Cloche from April 25 to May 2. 

Which five words best describe you? Mischievous, curious, intuitive, Virgo, observational.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I left school in year 11 “to go work in the movies”. I’m not sure what I thought would happen. I ended up as the office junior at Liz Mullinar Casting; it was the end of the eighties and they were casting so many Aussie films, TV dramas and commercials. I loved being around all the producers and directors and watching how they worked, it was a very exciting place for a 16-year-old boy to be at that time and I was right in on the action. I ended up doing Standby Props on Home and Away for a while, and continued to work in film/TV for the next few years after that. Gradually the jobs I got were becoming less interesting to me because I really wanted to start being a bigger part of the creative decisions. Photography was like being a whole film crew in one person, and that really appealed to me because I had gained insight into how all the different departments did their jobs. I put more and more energy into photography and was accepted into Sydney College of the Arts. After four years of wonderfully indulgent conceptual time at art school I decided I wanted to experience the more commercial aspects of photography. I started assisting some well-respected fashion photographers that really knew how to work with light. I had a great time assisting, moving to Canada to work over there for a while and gradually easing into shooting my own work and moving back to Sydney. I did some big portrait project collaborations with Fashion Week and Future Classic Music to get myself back on the map here and I was lucky enough to pick up some regular commercial clients shooting objects and interiors in the meantime. Having loyal clients allowed me the space to take a small studio and work on my own projects. This is where I think I began to hit my stride because I could apply all of my technical experience to more conceptual ideas and come up with work like Botanical Inquiry.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Be as authentic as you can be, even if that means feeling like a weirdo. Embrace it, that’s where your point of difference is.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Botanical Inquiry is easily the highlight of my career to date. 

What’s been your best decision? Going to art school and developing a critical eye.

Who inspires you? Cinematographers like Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men) and Hoyte Van Hoytema (Let the Right One In).

What are you passionate about? Light and storytelling working together.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My grandmother, who passed away before I was born. She would have been a fine woman.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’ve love to photograph a feature film. Not sure if it will ever happen but the thought of it keeps me hungry.

What are you reading? American Cinematographer Magazine is always on the bedside table. Sexy, right?

images courtesy of daniel shipp; portrait carine thevenau

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Life took a swift turn for Jillian Middleton when she landed in New York in early 2000. After falling in with the interior styling crowd, she became the assistant for Carlos Mota (interviewed here), who is currently Architectural Digest’s international style editor and the former editor-at-large for Elle Decor. Her work with him included creating events and styling the pages of The New York Times Magazine. But even up until then Jillian had been  busy in interiors in Sydney. She started off with work experience with Adelaide Bragg and Gretel Packer, which lead to work with Deanne Rooz, and setting up her own interior design business. Jillian worked across a range of projects from penthouse suites to residential blocks and hotel fitouts. She also designed the interiors for restaurants such as Otto and Chicane. When she returned to live in Australia, she relocated to the far north coast and is now based in Byron Bay, where she continues to work on design projects. However, Jillian also lives for about five months a year in Bali, where she creates large-scale pendants for her clients. She has now turned this into the business Gypset Cargo.

Which five words best describe you? Spontaneous, creative, dynamic, happy, genuine.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started with work experience and then I studied and worked for Deanne Rooz in Bellevue Hill Sydney. She is a wonderful interior designer who is still working today. I have stayed a decorator and have branched into my own lighting/product range/brand.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To be honest and firm. Don’t cover up: say it like it is and always fix what you can.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Probably styling the den at grand Central Station for Eddie Baur clothing in NYC.

What’s been your best decision? My tea-cup maltese toy poodle, Dana Doodle! Ah, seriously? Well, that is serious but remaining true to myself always.

Who inspires you? My best friend David Katon, best architect ever.

What are you passionate about? Yoga, holistic views and healing. Art. The ocean. Music. Fashion.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My lil' brother. He died when he was five and a half years old.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Morocco, India, South America, Mexico, Turkey, Spain. Still lots to see for me.

What are you reading? The Power of Now by Ekhart Toll.

images courtesy of jillian middleton

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


Katia Carletti always envisaged herself as an artist - but a different one to the one that emerged. Born and raised in Adelaide, she had been studying painting at art school but it was starting to frustrate her, and after returning home from the studio she would spend the rest of her day making things with clay, she says. “I found it so enjoyable, and it sustained my interest so much more readily, that soon the clay took over completely, and I haven’t looked back,” Katia says. “I am predominantly self-taught in ceramics, and make all my work with a pinched, hand-building technique, so there is always something new to experiment with and learn.” Her interest is in objects that get used every day. “There’s something very intimate about creating forms that are to be cupped in your hands and raised to your lips,” she says. “I love the feeling of pinching a piece of clay up into a shape that is both beautiful and functional, and knowing that when it is finished someone else will be able to welcome it into their lives to hold and use as part of their everyday practices.” 

Which five words best describe you? Quiet, focused, homebody, baker, maker.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? When I went through art school I had this idea in my head that I was going to be a painter. It’s what I had always done, and so it seemed the most logical path to take. It wasn’t until my honours year, when I was making work about the every day as sacred, and the rituals associated with this idea, that I started to incorporate clay into my practice. From those initial experiments - simple hand-pinched forms bearing traces of the process used to create them, my ceramics practice grew. Soon I found I didn’t want to just make work about everyday rituals, I wanted to make things that could actually be used the quiet, sacred gestures of a normal day.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To trust myself and allow my work to follow the path it is meant to lead. Also, to be open to new ideas and opportunities, even if they aren’t the ones I thought would present themselves.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I am constantly astounded that I get to spend each day making things I love.

What’s been your best decision? To put painting aside and focus on clay. There was a bit of an internal struggle for a while, as I figured out what I wanted, but I’m so glad I made the change.

Who inspires you? Creative people who are passionate about the things they make, and work hard to push themselves into new directions. At the moment I particularly love the paintings of Elizabeth Barnett and the ceramics of Bridget Bodenham. Both very talented and lovely ladies!

What are you passionate about? Coffee in nice handmade cups, indoor plant jungles, bunny cuddles.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Perhaps Nick Drake? His music has stayed with me for a very long time, and makes me feel at home.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I am constantly dreaming of a house in the countryside with a sunlit studio and my own kiln.

What are you reading? When am I ever not listening to Stephen Fry, read Harry Potter to me!

images courtesy of katia carletti; photography lana adams

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


“Art is addictive and in my blood,” says Sydney-based artist Julian Meagher. “My mum is a great artist, and I grew up surrounded by people making and appreciating art. It has always been part of my life.” However, up until about seven years ago, Julian was a practising doctor. But he made the switch after deciding he didn’t want to regret not giving his art a chance. While Julian took a year off his medical degree to study portraiture at Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy, his artistic career has been a “slow burn of momentum”, he says. In 2009 and 2012 he received the New Work Grant from the Australia Council of the Arts, and over the years has been a finalist for multiple times in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize and the Blake Prize, among others. In 2014 he was a finalist in the Archibald Prize. As to when he felt he was on the right path? “When I knew I was going to paint forever, no matter what,” he says. Julian is a founding director of the artist-run gallery Chalk Horse. (Read interviews with fellow directors Jasper Knight and Oliver Watts.) His first solo show at Olsen Irwin opens on April 22. 

Which five words best describe you? Considered, soft but stubborn, lanky, perfectionist. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Artist-run spaces were the early stepping stones. We need more of them, they are important non-commercial platforms in the first five years or so of any artist's career. I am proud to be a director of Chalk Horse Gallery, which is one of these. I am lucky enough to be represented by some really good galleries now who provide a great deal of support and opportunity. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Turn up and work hard every day, sounds easier than it is when you are a creative. There is no pay cheque at the end of each week. Endurance, risk-taking and pushing yourself creatively with each painting are all must-have traits, I believe. Failure is part of the process. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Probably exhibiting internationally, although I was very happy to be hung in the Archibald last year with a portrait of John Waters.  

What’s been your best decision? Allowing the paint to do some of the work, learning not to overwork things. 

Who inspires you? My mum. And anyone who is passionate about something, doesn't matter what it is. 

What are you passionate about? All the little moments that lighten the world, not focussing on the shadows. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My Dad when he was my age. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? The unattainable perfect work.

What are you reading? The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. It is a powerful book, but it his style that I really love, it is in the same emotive class as Tim Winton. 

images courtesy of julian meagher

Monday, 20 April 2015


It was a good sign when Danish design company Menu and its head of design - from Norm Architects - met Theresa Arns and decided to put some of her designs into production straight away. The architect and furniture designer, who is based in Copenhagen but was born and raised in Cologne, Germany, had a few of her pieces selected for production, including a jewellery box, a turning coffee table and a Private Desk - a writing desk meet dressing table combination. Scheduled for release is a sofa series and a bar trolley. Theresa completed her studies at the Peter Behrens School of Architecture in Germany, and moved to Berlin to work as an architect, focussed on exhibition design. “But I always felt that what I love to work with the most is furniture,” she says. To this end, Theresa moved to Denmark to gain a Masters in Architecture and furniture design at The Royal Danish Academy of Arts. “Design comes quite natural to me,” she says. “I pay a lot of attention to all the everyday objects around us and I love to form, improve and change them. I think that the atmosphere of the spaces we live and work in and the objects we use and surround ourselves with, influence our mood, mindset and the way we feel a lot. It is a lot about worshipping good quality and handcraft.”

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, thoughtful, subtle, critical, focused.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started to work a lot with interiors and I love to work with space, but working with objects and furniture, where I can concentrate on the small details, is what makes me the most happy and therefore I decided to concentrate more on that.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To trust in myself - it is gonna be fine!

What’s your proudest career achievement? It really makes me happy to see and know that there are people using my designs in their everyday lives and that they are glad for them. 

What’s been your best decision? To move to Copenhagen and to work independently. 

Who inspires you? Other passionate people like my boyfriend, who also is an architect and designer, inspire me a lot. As I am the most inspired when I am travelling, the best combination is to go on travel adventures with him.

What are you passionate about? Form-giving, travelling, nature and food.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would love to meet my grandmother again, who died when I was a child. She was a very loving and inspiring person, who I didn’t get to know good enough.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would like to build my own home and have a family. 

What are you reading? Haruki Murakami, Onna no Inai Otokotachi - in German, though.

images courtesy of theresa arns

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